Teaching Evolution

A blog devoted to teaching evolution, both in our schools and in our communities.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Exploiting Journalism's 'Both Sides' Rule

We've discussed before in this space the tendency of the news media to report every issue as if opposing sides always have equal merit. Evolution vs. creation/intelligent design is just one example, but it's the example we're most interested in here.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Carroll writes:

The thing is, people savvy in manipulating the media have figured out the "both sides" rule, and sometimes they create another "side" where one barely existed, so the two sides can be seen to be in conflict. Obviously, giving equal weight to a fringe idea just lends unwarranted legitimacy to that fringe idea -- a fringe idea like "intelligent design."

"Intelligent design" used to be called "creationism," but some of the wackier creationists began alleging that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time and that the Earth was only 6,000 years old, and that sort of stuff made even the theocrats nervous. So "intelligent design" was born.

Intelligent design is not science. It is not even a field of study. It is a belief system wrapped up in "scientific" language. Scientists have been studying the origin and nature of life on earth for at least 4,000 years. In that time, they have come up with a number of hypotheses. Then new evidence has been turned up, and the old hypotheses have been discarded, often reluctantly.

Read the whole thing.


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